“I loved to see her smile, to see those dimples of hers that sink in; to hear her talk in that slow manner of hers, with that voice that was not at all thin. No name sounded as sweet as Rita’s. No subject of conversation would do, except Rita. If a day passed without chatting or talking with her on phone, that day was incomplete. Every night we’d chat and chat till she slept off and left some messages unreplied. Or till my phone dies down. Or, on rare occasions, till there was nothing more to talk about….”
I can’t say exactly when I took to liking Rita. Maybe it was the day we became friends on Facebook, which coincided with my birthday, and she had posted a goodwill message on my wall; or the day we were on our way to Kaduna from Zaria for a youth retreat, and she had started chatting with me on Facebook even though she was sitting right beside me in the bus; or two days later, on our way back from the retreat, when she was sitting beside me again, and we listened to music from her phone, sharing the same earpiece. I can’t say, really. I don’t know how it happened. But it happened, anyway. And I was in love with Rita, or so I thought.
Rita became the only person I’d log on to Facebook to chat with–I’d log out as soon as I discover she was not online–and, because the network in my hostel was poor, I didn’t mind going as far the second gate of the school so I can find a better network to chat with her. She became the only one I’d send SMS to at nights; the only one I’d spend minutes talking with on phone, and never minding the cost. Rita became the one whom, in broad daylight, I’d picture us together in future, she the wife and I the husband, living a cosy life cushioned in love, God’s grace and favour, a life steeped in uxoriousness and happiness. Rita became the only person I loved to sit close to in rehearsals and church services, the only one… Rita became the air I breathed.
I loved to see her smile, to see those dimples of hers that sink in; to hear her talk in that slow manner of hers, with that voice that was not at all thin. No name sounded as sweet as Rita’s. No subject of conversation would do, except Rita. If a day passed without chatting or talking with her on phone, that day was incomplete. Every night we’d chat and chat till she slept off and left some messages unreplied. Or till my phone dies down. Or, on rare occasions, till there was nothing more to talk about.
I had not told her I was in love with her. Wasn’t it palpable enough? She had not telegraphed that wasn’t into me. It was a matter of saying it out, I had thought, and she’d accept it, because she’d accepted me a million times in her mind.
I was in the university and she was in the gap between secondary school and university, about to rewrite SSCE. She was actually waiting to be admitted into the university I attended.
When I decided to tell her I was in love with her, my trouble began. And when my trouble began, and aggravated, I wondered whether I shouldn’t have told her. But it was no use thinking that way. Yes, when I decided to tell her, she parried and stalled, giving me non-committal answers. Like a politician deciding to say little to too-inquisitive journalists, she neither gave me an outright No nor the hope I was itching to have. I sent recharge cards, called, texted, went every now and then to see her where she was rewriting exams, spent time with her, paid her fares, but it didn’t just work. She was the Rita I knew, but wasn’t in love with me.
The war had begun. It was a two-handed war between I and Rita on one hand, and I and God on the other hand. My whole heart was with Rita, not God. And when I gave her my heart, I told God what I’d done. I’d pray to Him –or tell Him rather–that I was in love with Rita and couldn’t love any other person aside her, and He should make it work. Wasn’t I His child? And if I was His child, won’t the desires of my heart be granted? She now had my heart and I breathed her; He had to make it work, make her love me.
I kept on telling God what to do for me. Maybe He was amused at my petulance and importunity, I can’t say for sure, because I know He wouldn’t be angry.
Gradually, I began losing the war with Rita, and was crestfallen. My gloomy days began. My perplexity began to tell. I’d go to lectures and fail to concentrate on what the lecturers said, never wanting to talk to anybody, stealing away into the lecture room five minutes to the time and vanishing as soon as the lecturers left, craving to be left alone with my thoughts. Rita was the ray of light that would illuminate my lacklustre life, and anything short of her wouldn’t suffice.
I was losing the war, yes, and boredom and sullenness bedecked my life. Nothing was sweeter than sitting alone and mopping, like a bereaved person or a bored amateur actor told to express boredom.
In the months that followed, I was later to know that she was in a relationship with someone else, the relationship being on for almost a year, and she wouldn’t want to jeopardise it. And when I thought about it, I would call it “The Consequences of Loving Rita”, thinking what a perfect title it was, and toying with the idea of writing about it someday.
But now, I was still in the doldrums, still wallowing in that gloomy state I’d plunged myself into. And so, one morning, I woke up from a troubled sleep, reached out for my phone, which laid in the tiny space between my little mattress and my room mate’s, and the earpiece attached to it. What I needed was a soft worship song that’d take my mind off my present state. I didn’t know which song to listen to, yet didn’t know why I clicked on Deitrick Haddon and Damita Haddon’s “It All Belongs To You”. The words of the song sink down to the depths of me, and hot tears welled up in my eyes. I allowed the tears flow freely down my face onto my bed. The words, in a way, said, Nick, listen and do what the song says. At that point in the song where Damita Haddon says, “Let it go, let go of your pain, let go of your emotions, let it go, let it go…” I repeated those words. Then I said, “Lord, I give it all unto You, it all belongs to You”. And INSTANTLY, the hurt and heaviness in my heart was dislodged. I mean instantly. For the first time in a long time, I felt lighter; I felt relieved.
I eased back my coverlet–I had drawn it over my head–and wiped the tears from my eyes. I was encased between two of my room mates. Feeling new and changed, I went about preparing for lectures. Then I went to class feeling different, better, and paid attention to what the lecturers said.
What if had not told God to take it all? What if I had left my heart with Rita when God craves to have it? I realised what it meant: God always wanted, and wants, to be first in my life, wanted to be my confidant. So I made Him first and confided in Him. Now I run to Him whenever I’m sad, depressed or fazed with something overpowering. He’s interested in the teeny-tiny details of my life. And, through songs, he speaks to me, reminds me of His promises, His presence…
Rita is a pseudonym
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About the Writer
Nicolas Leam graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Now serving in Ekiti, he’s looking forward to completing National Youth Service. He loves reading, singing, and writing out the little voices that cry out in his head. He loves God. Nicolasleam250@gmail.com
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